It’s been almost a year since my severe OCD meltdown. I’ve been going to a psychologist for about 11 months now. And I just want you all to know that it’s not really easy but it’s not impossible either.
It’s kind of like how I often tell people that the living the gospel isn’t easy, but it is simple.
There are certain things that you need to do or not do. It’s not a mystery. But actually doing or not doing those things isn’t necessarily cut and dry. There are a lot of outside forces that influence you. Heck, there are a lot of inside forces that try to influence you, too. And a lot of times it necessitates a battle against what you might want to do (or what seems to be the path of least resistance) and what you know you should do.
Wait—am I talking about living the gospel or fighting OCD? Both, I guess.
The (un)symbiotic relationship
But let’s get out of generalities and focus on specifics in regards to obsessive compulsive disorder. Unfortunately, it’s not like one “gets better” or cured from OCD. Yes, it can be managed. Yes, you can improve and once again live a normal life. But it’s not as if the OCD suddenly checks out and leaves. It’s not like a virus or bacteria that decided to inhabit your brain for a bit and then gets eradicated. It’s with you. You just have to tune it out, or like Dr. Wilson advocates in his book, you make another voice louder and in charge. But this is not easy, and it’s a choice and a battle that you fight to constantly make and (attempt to) win.
OCD’s cyclic nature
For me, it’s like a cycle. I have certain obsessions that lead to certain compulsions and worries related to, for instance: copyright issues, contamination, fear of getting other people sick, driving/parking/hitting cars, saliva, honesty, breaking laws, getting sick myself, my children, having people over, etc. But it’s not like I have all of these obsessions every day, all day long. They cycle through.
It’s like each obsession is a record and the OCD picks which one to put on the record player that day or moment or hour. If I can withstand and resist engaging in compulsions and become bored with the record, the OCD will take off that album and put a new one on until it finds something that triggers me. The obsessions don’t always affect me in the same way or to the same magnitude each time.
The necessity of treatment
And I guess this is why cognitive behavioral therapy and changing one’s attitude towards anxiety and the OCD itself is so helpful. When you have general tools in your arsenal, you can go against whatever issue the OCD throws at you that moment. You don’t really know which one it will pick, so you have to be ready for all of them. You have to be prepared to not engage in rituals, to be uncomfortable, and to move forward doing what the OCD does NOT want you to do. It’s simple, but it’s not easy.
So be ready for hard days. They will come. They are coming. Maybe they are here today. But do your research and be ready to fight your battles—because it really does require effort. And it might not feel awesome until you’re on the other side of a day, week, month, or even year. And even then, you will probably still be fighting the battles. But at least you’ll be more confident in your chances for success.